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GamesIndustry.biz: Level-5 North American operations all but shuttered


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Level-5 International America, the North American headquarters of Ni no Kuni and Yo-kai Watch developer Level-5, has all but shuttered operations, according to a GamesIndustry.biz report.

Citing “multiple sources familiar with the matter,” the report claims that both Level-5 International America and spin-out office Level-5 Abby began winding down operations in mid-2019, which included laying off the majority of both offices’ staff. Sources estimate around 10 employees were laid off from both companies.

Sources said employees were “given every indication” that North American operations would be shuttered, with one or two employees remaining for a few more months to carry out essential operations.

Level-5 Abby COO Yukari Hayakawa is also said to have departed the company in early 2020, despite her LinkedIn stating otherwise.

In July 2019, GamesIndustry.biz reported that Level-5 International America laid off two employees and moved a third into another role following the closure of a game design department. Level-5 confirmed those layoffs at the time, but said it was “not a large-scale restructuring.”

As for the future of Level-5’s releases in North America, one source suggested that there were currently no concrete plans for any more Level-5 games to be released outside of Japan.

Level-5 announced a western release for Yo-kai Watch 4 back in July 2019, but has not shared any updates beyond the initial announcement. A western release of its upcoming Inazuma Eleven title, Inazuma Eleven: Heroes’ Great Road, was also announced prior to the game’s multiple delays and name change in Japan.

The company’s most recent western release was Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold for Switch in February 2020, which originally launched in April 2018 in Japan.

Level-5 International America, Level-5 Abby, and Level-5 Japan did not respond when contacted for comment by GamesIndustry.biz.




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Not at all surprised, they have been a waste of money since they were established. Incredibly slow for anything to happen, making the most asinine decisions possible. Horrible communication with fans to keep interest and awareness levels of their products up too. I forgot Yokai Watch 4 was announced for localization and just randomly remembered a month or so ago and laughed to myself that it was going just as well as Yokai Watch 3's announcement. In that it was terrible.


I'd rather they just give their games to somebody like Idea Factory to handle or something. Or Atlus. Why even have a western branch when you don't even publish your games for the most part? Nearly all their games were published by Nintendo outside of Japan. So I assume all they did at the NA branch was localize games, but they took ages. And it's stupid to partner with your direct competitor since they have a conflict of interest in advertising your games as they directly compete with first/second party games like Pokemon, Animal Crossing... I still can't find a copy of Yokai Watch 3 since they produced like 3 copies of it.


They should have fixed their shit ~first~ before establishing a western branch that barely did anything. Like how Idea Factory came to be. They let NISA build up their brand in the west, then cut them out of it. lol and they actually publish games. What a concept. Provide good CEs, and listen to what fans want and actually seem to give a shit.


Level-5 never had any interaction with their fanbase. No communication. Horrible marketing.

I hope this doesn't mean we don't get any of their games in the west, that would suck, but I think good riddance for this useless branch.


edit; I'm just assuming Level-5 did localization work, did Nintendo do it for them? because that'd be even more funny to me if Nintendo handled that for the games they published. Because... what were they doing the whole time?

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Ironically, I was randomly wondering to myself just yesterday what the hell happened with Yo-kai Watch 4 ever coming west. Well I guess that's dead in the water now.


I wish I could be more upset about this but I'm rather indifferent. I love Dark Cloud and... That's about it. Most of the other level 5 games I've played have been enjoyable to some extent, but they often start out enjoyable and then I just desperately want them to end the further in I get. I'll never forget the 100 phase final boss (yes I'm exaggerating, I think it's more like 10-15 or something if you include all the mini bosses in-between) in Rogue Galaxy where if you die at any point to any of those phases, you have to redo the whole thing from the start, from your last save point. I remember dying right at the last phase and promptly rage quitting the game for like a year or two. Went back and finished it last year I think and my God was that ending not worth it.


I think I quit Ni No Kuni near the end too, just because it got boring. Went back and finished it a year or two later and... Not worth it. And I very rarely ever drop JRPGs so late into the game unless they just get too awful or grindy for me to care any more, especially when the story isn't exactly carrying the game for me any more.

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Level 5 likely isn’t going anywhere, but the division responsible for expanding in the west (IA + West) is the thing being eliminated.

I don’t think we have to worry about them losing their IPs, I just don’t anticipate them revisiting them for new releases under these circumstances. 

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